Advancements in wearable sensors have allowed us to quantify and monitor the many bio-signals, and sometimes even bio-fluids, that emanate from our bodies. But when it comes to urine and fecal matter, which can contain a wealth of information, we’ve largely relegated its inspection to the yearly physical or when helping a doctor diagnose a disease.
Over at Stanford, Dr. Sam Gambhir and his team have published a paper discussing the progress they’ve made on a smart toilet system that can automatically analyze stool and urine for the detection of some cancers, as well as some digestive and renal disorders.
Like the now-ubiquitous bidet attachments, the toilet system is mounted on top of a regular toilet and outfits the inside of the bowl with various sensors. According to the journal article, these attachments “analyse the user’s urine using a standard-of-care colorimetric assay that traces red–green–blue values from images of urinalysis strips, calculates the flow rate and volume of urine using computer vision as a uroflowmeter, and classifies stool according to the Bristol stool form scale using deep learning”. Additionally, pressure and motion sensors can track the onset, frequency, and duration of bathroom breaks. Data collected from the toilet is sent to a secure, cloud-based system and can be integrated into an EHR.
To differentiate the multiple people who likely will use the smart toilet, the system is fitted with a fingerprint scanner on the flush lever. However, Gambhir’s team realized that there could be scenarios where one person uses the toilet but another flushes it, or the toilet automatically flushes after use. To address this, the team added a small scanner that scans…your anus.
“We know it seems weird, but as it turns out, your anal print is unique,” Gambhir revealed in a press release.
So far, the smart toilet has been tested in a 21-participant pilot study for a couple months, and Gambhir hopes to test it with more participants as they continue making improvements, such as an actual biochemical analyses on the stool.
Let’s just hope Apple isn’t considering “Anal ID” for its next generation of iPhones.
Journal abstract from Nature Biomedical Engineering: A mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta